7/31/08

More Muslim fundamentalist whackjobbery

"RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Every single man knows: Walking a dog in the park equals sure babe magnet. Saudi Arabia's Islamic religious police, in their zeal to keep the sexes apart, want to make sure the technique doesn't catch on here.

The solution: Ban selling dogs and cats as pets, as well as walking them in public."

Saudi Arabia Bans Sale of Dogs and Cats in Capital in Effort to Keep Sexes Apart

"Violators found outside with their pets will have their beloved poodles and other furry companions confiscated by agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the official name of the religious police, tasked with enforcing Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code."

Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. You gotta be kidding. What next? Banning cucumbers and bananas for being too 'suggestive'?

We oughta beam over "Saving Grace" and "In Plain View". They'll all go catatonic for months, and then we can just waltz in and snag the oil.

7/30/08

"...it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away..."

The ranchers' coalitions, and to a lesser extent most of our elected representatives, continue to cite the Army's bad behavior in the past. That seems to be all they can do.

That's 25 years and more ago. A quarter century.

A quarter century ago, our Army's main warfighting doctrine had them engaging the Soviet army in central Europe, with conventional weapons, and conventional forces, with some options for chemical and biological weapons and perhaps even nukes.

A quarter century ago, our Army and the armies of our allies, and our other military services participated annually in REFORGER, Return of Forces to Germany, which was a major reinforcement and resupply exercise to sustain our forces in that engagement with the Soviets.

A quarter century ago, our Army was able to run Abrams and Bradleys throughout some of the most pristine, most valuable, most culturally significant landscape in Europe...no...in the world. We were able to work out a compromise with German civil authorities and the German population. We were able to reach compromise with the civil authorities and populations of other European nations. It wasn't painless, but it worked.

Today, our Army faces an entirely different warfighting doctrine, one involving what has come to be called "4th Generation Warfare". Last year about this time we did a series of articles about the evolution of the generations of warfare, and how that affected warfighting.

Today, our Army is in the midst of a complete realignment and restructuring of force composition in order to enable it to fight that type of warfare, and to maintain a conventional warfighting capability as well. Today, our Army is in the midst of a complete realignment and restructuring of force composition in order to enable it to defend this country. To defend us. We will soon have nearly 30,000 troops stationed at Fort Carson, including five Combat Brigade Teams, and another brigade-sized combat unit, the 10th Special Forces Group. The last BRAC report is old news, and to a large extent, obsolete news. It's a dead horse.

There is no question that the Army behaved badly in the past in dealing with southeastern Colorado. The Army even admits this, as we saw from Secretary Eastin's statement to that effect.

The Army today is an all-volunteer force. No one is drafted. No one serves unwillingly. Our men and women in the armed services, in the Army, serve us well, often at great cost. We see that cost in flag-covered caskets and in imagery of wounded soldiers. What we do not see is the cost to the soldiers and their families in terms of separation and other forms of stress and hardship. In their cover letter to the Army's report on why it needs more territory at PCMS, Eastin and General Graham said:

"If soldiers cannot accomplish necessary training close to home, then they sacrifice limited time at home with their families, to head off to distant places to train for their combat mission.

When our soldiers have a facility so close to home, it makes no sense to keep them away even longer than the year or more they already are spending in combat.

Soldiers and families at Fort Carson have a huge stake in this discussion over land purchases at PCMS. If we cannot train our soldiers properly here, and it must be done elsewhere, it is clear who pays the price. It is borne by the soldiers' children, spouses, family and friends who will see their loved ones even less than they do right now."


Isn't it time we started looking to the future? Are our elected officials not capable working out something binding in the way of an agreement with the Army? We know what does not work. How about finding something that does? If we were able to run training exercises in the midst of thousand year old villages and towns, with cathedrals, churches...homes, for that matter, that were old when Martin Luther threw his inkpot at the devil...why cannot we come to a compromise over Pinon Canyon? Why can we not offer more in support to our nation's defenders other than a few cheap magnetic ribbons and a variation on Rudyard Kipling's famous work, "Tommy"?

Approval ratings

Remember the last election cycle, when the Democrats wrested control of the Congress from the Republicans? Remember the joy in the streets? The bubbling effervescence? The often irrational "now we'll have his head on a pike" attitude about the left regarding Dubya?

9% of Americans approve of the way in which the Congress is doing its collective job these days.

32% approve of the way in which Dubya is doing his.

Huh.

I wonder what it all means.

Much of the distaste Americans have for Dubya has to do with the war. Yet, the Democratically-controlled Congress has failed utterly to do anything about the war, as well as a number of other things, including internal petroleum development or effective alternative fuels initiatives and development. And, we are subsidizing at insane levels the production of ethanol, which uses corn, which removes corn from the food chain, including beef and pork production, which drives up the cost of feed-lotting, which drives up food costs. That's a Democrat thing, too.

Why is that?

In 1973, the Congress finally brought about an end to the war in Vietnam with Public Law 93-52, passed rather rapidly through both houses and then signed into law by then-President Richard Nixon. That law effectively cut off all funding for all combat activities by US forces in or over, or from the shores of, South Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia. You can look it up yourself. Just Google it. I was then on my fifth tour of duty in Southeast Asia. I was quite used to it by then. In fact, for several years, it was why I got up in the morning. Or evening. Or other odd times during the day/night. We were somewhat taken aback by it, this Congressional hissy-fitting. "Can they do that?" I remember asking, "What will we do with no woah no moah?" Well, of course they can. And eventually, they did.

So why, in the face of such a majority who disapprove of why and how they are doing their jobs, do they continue to do whatever it is they are doing? Is it because they believe it's right and their constituencies are clueless? Why is it?

Well, perhaps when BarryO takes office we will all be Saved. Ha-lee-loo-ya, brothers and sisters.

Slow news day

Yesterday our neighbors over in California went through what is essentially a minor earthquake. It probably would not seem minor to we here in The Smile Hi City, but by California standards, it was a little 'rock and roller' and that was about it. Leece, being a southern California babe...uh...girl...was rather unimpressed.

On the other hand, ol' Shep on FoxNews was all a-twitter. The excitement on FN reached a screaming crescendo when a suspected watermain break was discovered in Chino Hills. We were treated to several hours of aerial views of the intersection containing the alleged afflicted pipes, while Shep kept us up on 'developing developments'. Can you imagine the price tag on that, given maintenance and JP-4 costs these days? It may well have exceeded the cost of all the damage wrought during the roller. Think about it. All over the nation, no, the world, we were treated to continual coverage of a suspected watermain break in southern California. For hours. Next time we have a watermain break here in The Smile Hi City, should we notifiy Channel 11 News?

It must have been a slow day for Shep. There were no school shootings, church shootings, kidnappings, dead GI's in Iraq/Afghanistan, bombers, plane crashes, grinding crashes on the highways, lost dogs, or hot blonde school teachers diddling middle schoolers to keep him busy.

A slow day indeed. Perhaps today will be better for FoxNews.

"Spirit' and 'Intent' vs 'Letter of the law'

The Army has been complying with the letter of the law regarding the so-called 'funding ban' on the Pinon Canyon expansion. The letter of the law is contained in section 412 of the Military Construction and VA Benefits Appropriation Act of 2008. That section prohibits the expenditure of any funds authorized by that specific act. This is consistent with the Rules of the House of Representatives.

Opponents of the PCMS expansion continue to go on about how the Army is violating this ban. The Army is doing no such thing. The Army can use funds from other appropriations to accomplish a number of tasks related to a PCMS expansion. They obviously are doing so.

So the opponents are now going on about how the Army is violating the spirit and intent of what the Congress wants.

The problem is that 'spirit' and 'intent' are very subjective. This is why we have very specific wording in our laws, and why when we do not, problems arise. Even when the wording seems specific, problems arise. This is why we have several levels of courts.

Which brings us to a perfect example of how 'spirit' and 'intent' can, and often do, conflict with 'letter'. We find this no better displayed in the growing hoo-hah over the United States Supreme Courts recent overturning of the Washington DC ban on handguns.

Here is a press release about that. If this were going on here in southeastern Colorado, do you think our rancher colleagues would be happy with it? Do you think they would be going along with what the District of Columbia is doing in 'the spirit' of the law?

Lawsuit claims new DC firearms regulations violate recent Supreme Court ruling

By BRIAN WESTLEY (The Associated Press) – Monday, July 28th, 2008, 6:02 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that struck down Washington's 32-year-old handgun ban filed a new federal lawsuit Monday, alleging the city's new gun regulations still violate an individual's right to own a gun for self-defense.

Dick Heller and two other plaintiffs argue that the city's regulations are "highly unusual and unreasonable" in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit claims the District of Columbia continues to violate the intent of the Supreme Court's June 26 decision by prohibiting the ownership of most semiautomatic weapons, requiring an "arbitrary" fee to register a firearm and establishing rules that make it all but impossible for residents to keep a gun in the home for immediate self-defense.

The D.C. Council was quickly criticized by gun rights advocates when it unanimously passed emergency firearms legislation July 15. The law will remain in effect for 90 days, and the council expects to begin work in September on permanent legislation.

The regulations maintain the city's ban of machine guns, defined in the law as weapons that shoot more than 12 rounds without reloading. That definition applies to most semiautomatic firearms.

Handguns, as well as other legal firearms such as rifles and shotguns, also must be kept unloaded and disassembled, or equipped with trigger locks in the home unless there is a "reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm."

"A robber basically has to make an appointment" for a resident to be able to prepare the weapon for use, Heller's attorney, Stephen Halbrook, said Monday. Halbrook also called the city's definition of machine guns "bizarre."

"The District's ban on semiautomatic handguns amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of arms that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for the lawful purpose of self defense in the home," the lawsuit alleges.

D.C. interim Attorney General Peter Nickles said the suit came as no surprise and that he expects a long legal fight as the issue makes it way through the courts.

"I think there's a fundamental disagreement with the intent of the Supreme Court's decision," said Nickles, noting that the court's ruling did not give officials much guidance on regulating firearms.

"We don't think the Supreme Court said you can have a loaded gun in the home at all times," Nickles said. He also said the ruling allows the city to regulate weapons that it considers unreasonably dangerous, and he believes that includes semiautomatic handguns.

After the Supreme Court's landmark 5-4 ruling on the Second Amendment, the D.C. Council quickly moved to comply with the ruling, and residents were allowed to begin applying for handguns July 17 for the first time since 1976.

Monday's lawsuit alleges that Heller initially tried to register a semiautomatic Colt pistol, but was denied because D.C. police considered the weapon to be a machine gun.

Besides Heller, the other plaintiffs are Absalom Jordan, whose application to register a .22-caliber pistol was denied, and Amy McVey, who must return to police headquarters two more times to complete the registration of her weapon after being photographed, fingerprinted and undergoing a background check, according to the lawsuit.

Washington's gun ban essentially outlawed private ownership of handguns in a city struggling with violence. But the ban's impact on crime has long been debated, particularly after homicides more than doubled during a crack epidemic in the late 1980s and early '90s.

The city's gun regulations remain among the strictest in the country under the new regulations, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

7/29/08

The "Battle Captain"

There is yet another email going around about BarryO:

+++++++++++++++

Hello everyone,

As you know I am not a very political person. I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to "The War Zone". I wanted to share with you what happened. He got off the plane and got into a bullet proof vehicle, got to the area to meet with the Major General (2 Star) who is the commander here at Bagram.

As the Soldiers where lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn't say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the General. As he finished, the vehicles took him to the ClamShell (pretty much a big top tent that military personnel can play basketball or work out in with weights) so he could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service.

So really he was just here to make a showing for the American's back home that he is their candidate for President. I think that if you are going to make an effort to come all the way over here you would thank those that are providing the freedom that they are providing for you.

I swear we got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States. I just don't understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and-Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.

If this is blunt and to the point I am sorry but I wanted you all to know what kind of caliber of person he really is. What you see in the news is all fake.

In service,
CPT Jeffrey S. Porter
Battle Captain
TF Wasatch
American Soldier

+++++++++++

And this one, too, is a pack of lies:

Obama snubs troops in Afghanistan

Colfax Avenue hookers and interjections

"Good article in the paper today, dude," opined DinkyDau Billy, as we sat at the outside table at The Holy Land Quickee's. We were all sipping cappies and munching Granma's 'chocklit' fudge cookies. We were watching the American flag fluttering in the breeze across the highway.

"Thanks, but they left the best part out," I replied.

"Yeah? Which was that?" he asked.

"The part about Colfax Avenue hookers," Tookie answered, "the part where he said, 'Trying to figure out what the 'spirit' of the law is to Congress is like trying to figure out what 'anything goes for fifty bucks' means to a Colfax Avenue hooker.'"

"Why'd they leave that out?" Billy wondered, "it sums up Congressional standards quite nicely. Did you know that public opinon shows that only 9% of respondents approve of Congress' behavior and performance. That's from the latest Rasmussen Reports. Your comment seems right on the money."

"So you would think. Apparently it was too 'colorful'. Accuracy is secondary."

Rasmussen Reports

"What about them ranchers?" Billy asked.

"Well...they want us on board. They want us to back 'em up. They tell us we have a stake in all this. They tell us our economic future hinges on them keeping up cattle production and serving as their conduits to the markets," I explained.

"Is that true?"

"To a certain extent," Tookie interjected. She was getting good at that interjecting. "But all they want is complete and unwavering agreement. When the ranchers' coalitions want your opinion they'll give it to you. Otherwise, they'll point out that you're just a townie and have never owned anything worthwhile and have never worked for anything that mattered, and you are incapable of understanding any of that."

"Huh. That's how it looks to me, too," Our Stalwart said, interjecting a bit of his own.

"The problem is that the ranchers, and apparently all of our political leadership, local, state, and Federal, is stuck in the past. They are all good at citing what happened a quarter-century ago. They are near useless in dealing with the present," Toot Sweet continued, most cogently.

"A quarter-century ago Army warfighting doctrine had us engaging the Soviet Army on the central European plains," Billy strategically advised.

"A quarter-century ago we were running REFORGER exercises throughout Germany, running Abrams and Bradleys through German villages, alongside Bundeswehr Leopards and British Chieftains. Odd, isn't it, that we could come to a compromise with our former enemies, the Germans, a completely different nationality and culture, yet our own citizens, the ranchers, insist on seeing the Army as Satan incarnate, and our elected officials are going along with it."

"Well, REFORGER no longer matters. It's a completely different warfighting doctrine now. The Army, like an Oldsmobile, is no longer your father's Army. It's completely reorganized. Also we're in a different time. Back then we were still transitioning from the post Vietnam and draft era. Things were...unstable. Read Colin Powell's book. He does a good job explaining it."

"Read? Do you honestly expect any of those folks to read? Why would they do that?" Toots was practicing her sarcastic delivery. She was a bit too...obvious.

"They should also read the Army's report and give it some serious thought. The Army has done a good job with it. They sound real reasonable. Especially that cover letter from Eastin and Graham. While on the other hand, the ranchers and to a slightly lesser extent our elected officials continue to go on about the same old stuff, the same legislative inaccuracies. They are really losing their grip. Editorials up and down the Front Range are showing this," Billy said.

"Local people might be buying into the rancher position, and the ranchers and the local people might be shouting 'Huzzah!' over Salazar J. and Musgrave and Kester, but I don't think that extends much beyond the lower Arkansas and the Purgatoire/Pinon area," Leece finally chimed in.

"Hey. Hey. Let's all move down to Model and apply fer them civilian jobs," Billy suggested, "hey, Federal pay scale, Federal retirement, Federal benefits."

"Well, it isn't a done deal yet, Billy, and besides, the ranchers will be knocking people out of line for those jobs when they do, if they do, come up," Leece rather cynically observed.

"Our elected officials have had a fair amount of additional time to devise alternate strategies for dealing with a Pinon Canyon expansion," Tookie said, "have they presented any contingency plans? Or are they too busy passing useless resolutions?"

"Well...we have..."

"I know, I know," Toots rather tiredly noted, "we have the light plant lit up and we're getting our $4,000 sign on the side of the Elks building to tell Amtrak passengers where they are. So I guess we're going to do the hot dog cart twice a day down there?"

"Dunno. I think the public health inspector will probably put the kibosh on that. She's good at finding all kinds of reasons to shut people down. We is the healthiest population in the country," Billy said.

We went back to watching the flag flutter in the breeze.

"It's all George Bush's fault, you know," said Toot Sweet.

"No doubt."

7/28/08

Dirty pool

OK, I'm not a BarryO fan, not at all. Most recently, for example, he decided not to visit wounded GI's at Landstuhl hospital in Germany (we used to live in Landstuhl, though that little tidibt has nothing to do with this). He did so when it became apparent that he would not be able to bring along his fan club from the media, and that he would therefore not have all of the great photo ops. It appears that BarryO was less interested in visiting the wounded troops than he was in getting pictures of himself visiting the wounded troops. That's sleazy, in my book.

The email that is posted below is also sleazy. It is being circulated around so all True American Patriots will know what a real weasel BarryO is. The problem with this email is that all of the comments have been taken out of context, and in some cases have been edited by the author of the email and are not what BarryO wrote. The last comment in particular is a real down home example of sleaze. I wonder if the author of the email ever read any of BarryO's books. If one is going to make an effort to point out BarryO's weaselry, I would suggest that there is plenty of real fodder around without having to resort to making it up.

+++++++++

Do you know this man?

Think you know who this man is?

This possible President of the United States??

Read Below and ask yourselves, is this REALLY someone we can see as the President of our great nation!!!!

Below are a few lines from Obama's books; In his words!

From Dreams of My Father: 'I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.'

From Dreams of My Father : 'I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race.'

From Dreams of My Father: 'There was something about him that made me wary, a little too sure of himself, maybe. And white.'

From Dreams of My Father: 'It remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.'

From Dreams of My Father: 'I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa , that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself , the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.'

And FINALLY the Most Damming one of ALL of them!!!

From Audacity of Hope: 'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'

* If you have never forwarded an e-mail, now is the time to Do so!!!!

We CANNOT have someone with this type of mentality running our GREAT nation!! I don't care whether you are a Liberal or a Conservative.

We CANNOT turn ourselves over to this type of character in a President. PLEASE help spread the word

+++++++++++++

Regarding the last comment about 'I stand with the Muslims..."...here is the real scoop:

# I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.

This statement is a rewording of a passage from page 261 of The Audacity of Hope, in which Barack Obama spoke of the importance of not allowing inflamed public opinion to result in innocent members of immigrant groups being stripped of their rights, denied their due as American citizens, or placed into confinement, as was done with Japanese-Americans during World War II. The original contains no specific mention of "Muslims":

"In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

While it is unfortunate that Muslims who are US citizens have been subjected to 'hard stares', I'd say that probably comes from the lack of outrage on their part at the barbaric behavior of so many members of "the religion of peace". We see Muslims world wide screaming for the heads, literally, of whoever happens to offend their moonbat sensitivities, but we don't hear much from Muslims who are outraged by this behavior. All we hear is how outraged Muslims are over things that any coherent/rational person, across a number of racial/ethnic/religious/national boundaries would consider inconsequential trivia. Apparently US citizen Muslims are not outraged. So I have to question the foundations of such a religion. OTOH, if it comes down to putting US citizens who are also Muslims into detention camps, then I too stand with BarryO. We've been there before; Camp Amache stands as mute testimony. I think we've had enough of that form of "American patriotism".

7/27/08

Evening in The Holy Land

From this evening's photo bag:




Pinon Canyon. Again

This morning's Chieftain has a 'Pro/Con' article on the Pinon Canyon expansion. You can find it here:

Pro/Con: Pinon Canyon Expansion

The Chieftain has published the introductory letter that serves as a 'preamble' to the report from the Army, required by the Senate at the behest of Ken Salazar. That serves as the 'pro' part of the editorial.

Rancher Steve Wooten has written the 'con' part of the editorial.

Some things seem to leap out from the overall editorial.

First, the Army seems to be dealing with the here and now, and the future. I find that quite interesting, for the military has often, more often than not, been bogged down in the past. At some of the Army's premier training and educational facilities, such as the Command and General Staff College, we find the majors and light colonels who fought the last war preparing to fight the next one. Too often in the past they have been bogged down by the same type of ossified thinking that the Army faced in transitioning from horse cavalry to armored cavalry, and we saw over in the Navy with the fight between the battleship admirals and the carrier admirals before WWII. Yet, with the advent of 4th generation warfare and the all-volunteer force, the military seems to be doing much better in this regard. We have never had a more lethal armed force, with better rank-and-file and better leadership, than we have today. I've been on many military installations in my time, and I have to tell you that every time Leece and I go up to Fort Carson, I cannot help but be impressed greatly by the quality of the people in our armed forces. It's a far cry from the transitional days between the aftermath of the Vietnam war and the present version of the all-volunteer force. Unfortunately we still have negative 'issues', but we don't seem to have quite the cover-up mentality as in the past. Not entirely, anyway.

I like the way the Eastin/Graham letter addresses all of this, and more. It is this statement which hits home for me:

"If soldiers cannot accomplish necessary training close to home, then they sacrifice limited time at home with their families, to head off to distant places to train for their combat mission.

When our soldiers have a facility so close to home, it makes no sense to keep them away even longer than the year or more they already are spending in combat.

Soldiers and families at Fort Carson have a huge stake in this discussion over land purchases at PCMS. If we cannot train our soldiers properly here, and it must be done elsewhere, it is clear who pays the price. It is borne by the soldiers' children, spouses, family and friends who will see their loved ones even less than they do right now."

I remember all too many TDY's and family separations due to 'exigencies of the service', so when I see the highest echelons of the military finally taking this matter into serious consideration, it really sits very well with me.

It is an all-volunteer force. No one has unwillingly been dragged into service. We ask a great deal of our armed forces, and they give us a great deal. Why is it so hard to work out a compromise that will serve them as well as they serve us? Are they who serve really nothing more than 'Tommy Atkins' when it comes down to it?

Mr. Wooten dwells on the past in his letter. He is correct on many of the points that he iterates and reiterates. Secretary Eastin said, in his interview with Leece, that the Army has been 'less than forthcoming' in the current go around. We all pretty much agree with that, whatever our position may be on the current expansion proposition. I remember the promises that never came to fruition.

But I also remember the first time, the only time, the Army tried to bring troops from the Pinon Canyon exercises up to The Smile Hi City. The plan was to bus them up for an R&R of sorts. What a great uproar that caused. I was working as a uniformed patrol officer for the PD at the time. It was decided by our political leaders that we would have Military Police accompany us while 'the army is in town'. Several MP's rode with me during that time. They were good kids. It was a good experience. But we also had some of our 'leaders' going on about having a bunch of 'drunken GI's' running around our beautiful little bucolic Smallville. 'Our daughters' virtue will be at risk!' Ah, Tommy Atkins...

So we had the troops come up, and it was more like having some inmates from one of the prisons on a work release than welcoming soldiers who defend us with their lives. There was one young lieutenant who got himself quite drunk - something which never happens with any of our local civilians, apparently - and subsequently got himself arrested for liquified stupidity in public. He was hauled in in the back of the dog truck, the one we used for stray mutts.

Welcome to La Junta, soldiers. Keep off the grass. Cash only. Have a nice day.

You see, there is more to this than just 'the Army promised this and the Army promised that and didn't deliver'.

I have lived on and around military installations and the towns that serve as their gateways most of my life. Many of those with small towns around them have had that 'Tommy Atkins' attitude. They love the soldiers' money, but they'd just as soon not have the soldiers.

This seems to be the underlying view of many of our local citizenry, their protestations that they 'support the troops' notwithstanding. A magnetic ribbon on the car is really not all that big a deal, you see.

So while Mr. Wooten raises some very good points, and I cannot and will not dispute the accuracy of many of his statements, I would suggest to him that 'the times, they are a-changin', and perhaps it is time to MoveOn from the past and look at the 21st century and the way things are today.

BTW...have any of our Congresscritters and state legislators actually read that 40 page report?

7/26/08

Clouds in my coffee...

Cloud pictures from today and last week:

From Rocky Ford, today, Smith Market parking lot

From Rocky Ford, today, Smith Market parking lot. The edge of the market roof blocked the glare from the sun, so we could see the ice crystals and rainbow effect that were otherwise obscured. The color pattern looks like a snow angel.

Just west of the Otero County line on US 50, last Thursday evening.

Photo by Andrew Gossman

This is from last week's trip to the Black Hills. There is a face in the clouds, looking directly at the camera, peering over the hill.

Our political and economic leadership

"Hey. Hey. Howzitdoon?" asked DinkyDau Billy, walking in to The Holy Land Quickee's and fetching himself a diet Dr. Pepper from the cooler case. He came over and sat down with us.

"You gonna pay for that?" I asked.

"I gots a tab runnin'," he explained.

"Oh. Well, we're fine, I think. We were just discussing the poor quality of our political and economic leadership, and what, if anything, we can do about it," Leece told Our Stalwart.

"Really? Wutcha mean?"

"Well, we're looking at this latest round over Pinon Canyon. Fact is, the Army has handed the political leadership its collective head, and all we're getting from the leadership is either silence, or "yo mama wears combat boots" types of replies," I said.

"I gotcha. The coalitions ain't done nothin' fer a coupla years but go on about how the Army is violatin' this or violatin' that, or how they really support the troops..."

"...as long as the troops are somewhere else. Somewhere far, far somewhere else. I just read Rudyard Kipling's 'Tommy Atkins', again," interrupted Tookie, as she snuffled a couple of chocolate covered espresso beans.

"...as long as the troops are somewhere else," continued Billy, glaring at Toot Sweet.

"And, if you dare to question any of that, if you dare to write articles about how the Army has totally restructured, how the Army's entire war-fighting doctrine has changed, how Afghanistan and Iraq have really brought the Army into that Fourth Generation of war-fighting..."

"...you get letters from some rancher type who goes on incoherently about how you ain't never really owned no property that mattered and you ain't never really worked for nuthin' anyway so what would you know, " Toots did it again.

"...you get letters...aw, why do I even try, "Billy whined.

"Or, you get letters telling you if you don't like it around here, go somewhere else," Leece observed, "similar to that rather disjointed and rather...disturbing...letter from John Mestas the other day. Did that make any sense to anyone?"

"Nope. But it is very typical of what I would say is a significant, if not majority, chunk of the population."

"All that our elected officials are doing is writing letters to the papers or making public statements that don't amount to a wet fart in a windstorm," Billy said, in rather colorful manner.

"Interesting observation, Billy," chimed in Leece.

"Well, what have any of them been doing? What have they been doing with this time? Do you see any alternatives being offered? Do you see any economic planning for worst case scenarios? Do you see anything at all being done?"

"We're getting a sign up on the Elks building. We have the Light Plant sign lit up. We might have some kind of covered pavilion down at the rail station. It's no Harvey House, but maybe we could contribute to economic development by pushing a hot dog wagon around down there?" Tookie was on an economic development roll.

"I heered that the $5 million payroll promise and the hunnert permanent staff jobs, local hire, was part of a backroom deal. Them coalitions ain't part of it, though," Billy revealed.

"That's what we're picking up, too," Leece agreed, "so maybe some of our local politicians are playing it like some of the landowners. It's near suicide to come out of the political closet on that deal, you know."

"Yup."

"We live in interesting times," Tookie observed.

7/25/08

Senator Kester

Heretofore, I have found Senator Kester to be a reasonable and reasoned man. I have voted for him in the past, and I will probably vote for him in the future.

However, I have to disagree with his position on Pinon Canyon, and in particular the nature of his letter to the editor of the La Junta Tribune-Democrat.

What I would have preferred to have seen from Senator Kester is a reasoned examination of the report to Congress on Pinon Canyon, by the Army, telling the Congress why the Army requires an expansion of the maneuver site.

Instead, the letter was a bit of emotional fluff that accomplished nothing except to make the coalitions feel good.

What is Senator Kester's response to the report, and why?

I've read it, several times over, including the cover letter signed by Secretary Eastin and General Graham. Unfortunately, the cover letter does not seem to be included in the online version of the report. I say 'unfortunate' because it lists some very good reasons for the expansion, reasons that really hit home for me on a personal level.

Are our elected officials not capable of a reasoned examination of the report before their constituencies? Have they even read it?

Koshare 'justice'

Some of our Koshare alumni and supporters continue to demonstrate that they have little concept of morality, of right and wrong.

In his letter to the editor, Mr. Mestas describes how he voluntarily underwent a 'whipping' in an initiation. Then he sneers at the recent assault victim and his supporters as 'whiners'.

Mr. Mestas seems unable to understand the difference in voluntarily submitting to a whipping, and in being dragged unwillingly into a room and beaten with a stick and threatened with more of it unless he tells everyone he wishes to give a blow job to the stick-wielder.

Perhaps in Mr. Mestas' world, fellating one's leaders is de rigueur. That's an interesting take on Koshare 'discipline'. I wonder what Buck Burshears would have to say about it.

The Army, the Congress, and Pinon Canyon

Our state senator, Ken Kester, has written a letter to the editor in the Tribune-Democrat. In that letter, he indicates that he is miffed over the Army not complying with the 'spirit' or 'intent' of the Congressional wishes regarding the so-called 'funding ban' on the Pinon Canyon expansion.

You will notice that he has changed his presentation somewhat. He no longer accuses the Army of violating the Congressional ban. He now accuses them of ignoring Congressional intent. Perhaps Senator Kester has finally read the wording of Section 412 of the Military Construction and Veterans' Benefits Act of 2008. Perhaps also the Rules of the House for the 109th Congress.

The Army is complying with the law, as first drafted as an Act by the Congress and then signed into law by the President, and then enabled by the Defense Authorization Act of 2008.

This is the operative phrase: "The Army is complying with the law." Despite the continual harping to the contrary by our elected representatives and by the coalitions, the Army is complying with the law.

I have some problems with this business now over the so-called 'spirit' or 'intent'. If you examine case law over other issues, you will find that when you start using 'spirit' or 'intent' to drive the outcome of legal issues, you open a real Pandora's Box. Another name for it is 'situational morality'. Yet another is 'situational ethics'. The argument over 'spirit' or 'intent' is a double-edged sword. Today, it suits Senator Kester and our Congresscritters to accuse 'the Army' of non-compliance with the 'spirit' or 'intent' of the Congress. Tomorrow, on some other issue, 'the Army' could just as easily follow the 'spirit' of the law and find themselves in a tub of legal hot water for failing to comply with the letter of the law. Trying to figure out what the 'spirit' of the law is to Congress is like trying to figure out what 'anything goes for fifty bucks' means to a Colfax Avenue hooker.

Today, 'the Army' is rather creatively using other funding sources - not those appropriated by the Military Construction Act in question - to continue its mission. This is perfectly legal. Our Army - and it is 'our' Army, whether you like it or not - is not engaging in criminal activity or contempt of Congress.

Does Congress have any recourse? Of course they do. Congress controls the authorization for the appropriation of money for land purchase. Secretary Eastin said that repeatedly. He said it in his interviews for the Tribune-Democrat and for the Pueblo Chieftain, and Army spokespersons have repeated it, well before our elected officials seem to have figured it out. 'Es la ley', dudes. You don't need a crystal ball or a divining rod to determine what the 'spirit' or 'intent' is. 'The Army' understands this very well. I find it both strange and more than a bit entertaining that our elected officials have to be taught basic civics by...'the Army'...an organization that exists, in that delightful turn of phrase, 'to defend democracy, not practice it'.

As for the coalitions, their worn-out ploy of continually accusing 'the Army' of 'violating' the funding ban is obviously...well...worn-out. It's a dog that don't hunt. MoveOn, guys, to some new argument that actually holds water. While you're at it, you might start taking a look around at your neighbors and wondering which of them is about to sell out. Hey, if I lived down there and wanted to sell, I wouldn't let you in on it. We seem to be too fond of 'Koshare justice' down these parts.

7/24/08

Pinon Canyon editorials

Here are a few editorials on Pinon Canyon, from the last seven days or so:

Denver Post:

Common ground on Pinon Canyon

Some excerpts:

"In 2007, the Colorado congressional delegation slipped a measure into the defense appropriations bill for 2008 that amounted to a one-year prohibition on the Army spending money for PiƱon land acquisition.

However, an attempt to insert a similar measure into the 2009 defense appropriations bill failed in committee Thursday. But it's not necessarily over yet. The bill now moves to the Senate floor, where it yet may be amended.

At this point, we hope a compromise is in the offing."

From the Rocky Mountain News:

More realistic plan

Some excerpts:

"Our opposition to expansion of the Pinon training site has been based on the likelihood that it would require the wholesale condemnation of property - or, what is nearly the same, that the plans would create a situation in which reluctant landowners had little option but to fall into line and do the Army's bidding. Those dangers have not entirely vanished with the Army's latest announcement, but they're certainly reduced."

"At this point, we're not sure what purpose the [Musgrave-Salazar] moratorium serves. The Army needs Congress to appropriate money to purchase the land anyway. And additional economic and environmental studies might find that the land is too sensitive to cushion the blows of live fire and other intensive military training."

"Besides, the right to own property also includes the right to sell it. If the Army can demonstrate that it has found enough landowners who really do want to sell their property for the base, why shouldn't it be allowed to do so?"

"...given the Army's more realistic plans, there's no longer a compelling reason to prevent it from talking to ranchers and moving ahead with feasibility studies."

Even the Pueblo Chieftain, which has hardly been an example of journalistic objectivism in news articles on the issue, had this to say:

Pinon Canyon


Excerpts:

"
We are encouraged, though, by the Army's recent announcement that it is narrowing its sights to 100,000 acres south of the Pinon Canon Maneuver Site - not the 414,000-acre expansion proposed earlier."

"
If the Army refrains from eminent domain and commits to a permanent civilian payroll of $5 million, that's so much to the good. Then it would be worth taking a closer look at Pinon Canyon."

7/23/08

Losing the moral high ground

The ranchers and other members of the various coalitions that oppose the expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site have lost the moral high ground.

Back when the major issue was the threat of the Federal government's use of Eminent Domain to take the ranchers' lands, 'just compensation' (whatever that means) notwithstanding, they had my support.

But now it looks like at least one, possibly more, land owners are at least considering selling, on their terms. By 'their terms' I mean willingly, freely, as an exercise of one of the rights of ownership/interest in private property, without the sword of eminent domain hanging over them to make them 'willing' (wink wink nudge nudge) sellers.

In response to that, we are now seeing the coalitions' true colors. They do not care about property rights. Not yours, and not mine. Nor those of some of their neighbors. It goes beyond keeping their own property now, and goes to denying to other property owners the exercise of that right to sell as they wish.

The coalitions might be more properly named "Not 1 More Acre Homeowners' Association", and start publishing a handbook of what property owners down there can and cannot do. What's next on their agenda? Mandated color schemes for barns? Lawns around ranch houses must be trimmed every seven days? No branding on Sundays?

The coalitions also continue to insult the intelligence of the people in southeastern Colorado by continuing to rant and rave about how the Army is 'ignoring' the Congressional ban on expending funding on the expansion of Pinon Canyon. The Army is doing no such thing, and any sixth grade civics student could see that. So could the people of southeastern Colorado, if they would just exercise their rights as free citizens to inform themselves.

The coalitions have not presented a new thought or a new idea in more than two years. All we see from them is fear-mongering, scare tactics, and blatantly erroneous commentary. They might think about getting together with Focus on the Family and the Christian Right's press and comparing notes on all that; they all practice the same tactics.

Worse, our elected representatives, especially John Salazar and Marilynn Musgrave, continue to join in those erroneous mantras. Ken Salazar is a bit more cautious about it, but then, the good Senator has been trying - at some cost to his political clout - to work out some kind of arrangement that will serve both sides. What the Senator has failed to grasp, at least publicly, is that the ranchers are not in the least interested in that kind of arrangement. Fortunately, Senator Salazar seems to have remembered that he is a Senator, with a greater national responsibility. Our Congresscritters in the House, with a much smaller constituency and a much smaller responsibility, can afford to spout nonsense and treat us like morons, a brew that we happily lap up.

So the coalitions, and our Representatives in the House, have lost the moral high ground. This is reflected in recent editorials in the Denver Post; the Colorado Springs Gazette; and the Rocky Mountain News.

More slants...

The Chieftain might as well start putting a "Not 1 More Acre" banner across every issue:

Pinon Canyon expansion draws renewed fire

An excerpt:

"Democratic Reps. Liane "Buffie" McFadyen of Pueblo West and Wes McKinley of Walsh sent out statements and letters Monday calling on Congress to extend a funding ban on the Army spending any money on expansion through next year - although the Army is ignoring that prohibition."

"Ignoring that prohibition"? The Army, as near anyone can see, is adhering strictly to section 412 of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008:

Sec. 412. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any action that is related to or promotes the expansion of the boundaries or size of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado.

Can Musgrave, Salazar J., or anyone in the coalitions comprehend what Section 412 says? Or are they too busy dragging bushels of those ACU-patterned red herrings across the pages of the Pueblo Chieftain?

In yesterday's T-D, an Army spokesperson was cited thusly:

Salazar's moratorium doesn't pass Senate committee

"An Army spokesperson said that the Army could not acquire land in Fiscal Year 2009, because Congress has not authorized land purchase, nor has it appropriated funds. What the amendment blocks, the spokesperson said, is use of all Military Construction funds to acquire land. "Normally, in the year prior to a land purchase, the Army Corps of Engineers uses Planning and Design funds, which are a subcategory of Military Construction, to conduct title research and real-estate plans. Technically, these activities could be paid for with other accounts that are not covered by the moratorium, or with funds from prior years that also were not covered by the moratorium. "Appropriations limitation amendments, such as the Musgrave-Salazar amendment, have a limited effect. The Rules of the House make it clear that appropriations limitation amendments 'may not limit the use of funds provided in other acts or extend beyond the fiscal year for which the appropriation is provided," the spokesperson continued. "This means that the moratorium only affects one fiscal year of funds at a time, and only those funds in the legislative vehicle in which it is included."

Musgrave and John Salazar are hoist once again by their own petards. They really should rip a few strips off the backsides of the staffers who do their research. Every time they open their mouths about the Army 'violating' or 'ignoring' the restriction, all they do is show their own ignorance of the Rules of the governing body to which they have been elected. The wording of section 412 is also clear enough.

If they can show that the Army is spending money authorized under the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008, then they have a case. Otherwise, all they are doing is this:

a) demonstrating an amazing ignorance of how the House of Representatives works, or
b) demonstrating that they think their constituencies are ignorant, or
c) demonstrating that they think their constituencies, in addition to being ignorant, are too stupid or too lazy to read and understand both the Act and the Rules of the House, or
d) all of the above.

And the Pueblo Chieftain, which should be reporting fact instead of editorializing in what is supposed to be a news article, is part and parcel of the foolishness.

Just for grins and handy reference:

Rules of the House, 110th Congress

Rules of the House, 109th Congress (the one that passed the Act in question)

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Print)

Thomas

Sanctuary!

Here is one result of the moonbat policies of the so-called 'sanctuary cities':

This article is from today's San Francisco Chronicle:

The man charged with killing a father and two sons on a San Francisco street last month was one of the youths who benefited from the city's long-standing practice of shielding illegal immigrant juveniles who committed felonies from possible deportation, The Chronicle has learned.

Edwin Ramos, now 21, is being held on three counts of murder in the June 22 deaths of Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16. They were shot near their home in the Excelsior district when Tony Bologna, driving home from a family picnic, briefly blocked the gunman's car from completing a left turn down a narrow street, police say.

Ramos, a native of El Salvador whom prosecutors say is a member of a violent street gang, was found guilty of two felonies as a juvenile - a gang-related assault on a Muni passenger and the attempted robbery of a pregnant woman - according to authorities familiar with his background.

In neither instance did officials with the city's Juvenile Probation Department alert federal immigration authorities, because it was the city agency's policy not to consider immigration status when deciding how to deal with an offender. Had city officials investigated, they would have found that Ramos lacked legal status to remain in the United States.


Why do we tolerate cities who openly scoff at US immigration law and shield thugs like this? Why doesn't our beloved Congress knock off the useless and ignorant posturing and pandering and block Federal funds to these cities?

7/21/08

Civics

"Hey Leece!" DinkyDau Billy pedalled his Litespeed up on to the sidewalk in front of Daylight Donuts. We were just going in for something disgustingly fattening. We were carrying our Kenyan AA brew with us. No offense to Daylight Donut's joe, but when you are as inveterate a coffee snob as is Leece, standards must be maintained.

"Hi Billy!" Leece replied, with only one exclamation point.

"Hey. Hey. Kin I come in and snuffle one a them fritters witcher?" he asked.

"Of course," she told him.

"Hey. Hey," he said, as we sat at one of the tables with our little heart stoppers, "that's a reel good article in this morning's paper."

"Thanks, Billy, I had fun writing it," she said.

"Makes you wonder, though, doesn't it?" I asked.

"Sure does," Billy agreed, "cuz I bin wonderin' how come Marlynn and John especially is clueless about what that amendment a theirs really does."

"Well, if they are that clueless, then I gotta wonder what they are doing as our elected officials. It doesn't say much about us for electing such geniuses, does it?" I pointed out.

"I think it's more nef..nef..."

"Nefarious," Leece filled in.

"Yeah. Yeah. What Leece said," Billy concurred, "I think they know exackly what their amendment does, but they's countin' on their constituencies' bein' first, iggerint of the facks in that regard, and second, too lazy or too stoopid to look it up. So they gets to posture and pander and sound off like what they done really matters. Then they point fingers at the Army and accuse 'em of ignorin' Congress. That's some cheap shi...that's very cheap," Billy continued.

"Some might say it's less than forthright," I said.

"And then Roper and the Chieftain, ya think an editorial staff'd have some clue as to from where eminent domain is derived. Instead, they gots some Army civilian givin' 'em a civics lesson on the Constitution. Theys's somethin' wrong with that pitcher."

"Ah, next thing we'll hear is John and Marlynn whining about how the Army is ignoring the spirit of the law. I kin understand John whinin', he's a Democrat, but Marlynn is a Republican. It ain't dignified."

"There is nothing being ignored. The Army has its mission. Our elected officials screwed the pooch and left a hole big enough to drive an Abrams through. Don't tell me John and Marlynn wouldn't do exactly the same thing," I said.

"Well, there's always campaign funding as a perfect example," Tookie said, as she parked her Hotrock and picked up on the conversation, "and then there's the coalitions," she continued.

"What about them?" Billy asked.

"Let me get some Blue Bunny first," Toot Sweet said, going into the store.

A few minutes later she was pulling wrapper off some kind of Blue Bunny ice cream bar. "Well, they have made a real big deal out of bein' Sons of the Soil, Hard Workin' Sons of a Gun, or Son of a Guns, or something, glibly tossing out the Constitution and citing from it like they know what they are talking about, and all the time, they are just like those goofs in the Christian Press over SB200. All they do is resort to the same shrill whining, the same shrill and misleading comments, and the same fear tactics. I don't think they'd know the Constitution if it was printed on their next roll of Charmin. They haven't had an original thought or statement in at least two years." Tookie was in a very direct mood.

"I remember a year or so ago trying to make that point on the editorial page in the T-D," I pointed out.

"Yeah, and John Robertson and whatsername down there came up with their usual load of BS over it, too. The upshot of it was you is jist a city slicker, a toad sucking up to the public trough, and you ain't never had to work fer nothin' that mattered. They really contributed a lot to the discourse."

"That's true. That was their position. I think I was also accused, somewhat indirectly, of being a Communist or maybe just a socialist. Fortunately they didn't accuse me of being a Democrat. Meanwhile, Allard has been getting beat up and so to some extent has Ken Salazar. Thing is, Allard isn't up for re-election, so he doesn' t have to pander, and Ken Salazar, as a senator, has a bigger picture to deal with than does Brother John. He's still trying to balance that political game, however, and that kind of drags him down with the rest of 'em."

"Huh. Well. I see the county commissioners have sent out another letter opposing Pinon Canyon," Billy said.

"That's very useful. Very effective. After doing that, I suppose they can now go back to obfuscating what's going on with OCLI. That's highly productive," Leece noted.

"Would anyone care for a chocolate covered espresso bean?" Tookie inquired.

Salazar's moratorium doesn't pass Senate committee

The 'almost albino' iggle

"Hey! Hey!" DinkyDau Billy was in a high state of excitement as he slid to a stop in the parking lot of The Holy Land Quickee's.

"What's up, Billy?" Leece asked, as she delicately stirred her convenience store cappie. We had had some of our own Kenyan brew that we had found up in Colorado Springs at World Foods, but Leece was needing a caffeine fix.

"I gots evidence a biowarfare trainin' by the Army down in Pinon Canyon!!!!" he exclaimed, using up several exclamation points in gross violation of the AP writing style.

"Billy! You aren't supposed to use but one exclamation point!" Leece exclaimed, "you're making us look like a bunch of hicks from the sticks with all that excess!"

I felt like exclaiming, too, but I didn't think Leece would like all the @&*$&!^ and et cetera. So I remained calm. Someone had too. To.

"Tell us about this biowarfare," I suggested.

"Yeah. Yeah. Well, seems they found this iggle down there, a golden iggle, what's supposed to be...well...golden, kinda...but it ain't. It's kinda pee yellowish and it looks real ratty," Billy shared.

"Do you have any pictures?" Leece queried.

"Yeah. Yeah. But they's copyrighted so I gots ta just tell ya the link, "he said, "here it is."

The Almost Albino Iggle

"So you think this is proof that the Army is testing biowarfare agents down there?" I asked.

"Yeah! Yeah! Don't you see it? Doncher see the proof a genetic damage caused by all them bio-agents? Maybe chemical agents too!"

"Hmmmm...no...no, not really," I replied, "but then, I don't see the Army as the Source of All Evil, either, so perhaps I am not the unbiased person you need to evaluate this."

"There's reports a some kind a critter down there wearin' gas masks! Maybe the Army is trainin' critters like the Navy trains dolphins!" Billy continued.

"Hmmmm," I ruminated, unexcitedly. "Do you think they might be reporting racoons?"

"Where is Wes McKinley when you need him?" asked Leece.

++++++++++++++

An intellectual non sequitur:

USN Marine Mammal Program

"So the Navy gives them dolphins commissions in the Marines?" asked Billy.

"What?" Leece was somewhat incredulous.

"Does that mean the Army is gonna give them gas-mask-wearin' raccoons commissions, too?"

"What?" Leece was beginning to look a bit dazed. It takes a lot to accomplish that. DinkyDau Billy was on a roll.

Credit card ripoffs

Here is an interesting article from CNN about credit card ripoffs.

Some gas stations are now offering substantial discounts for cash payments rather than credit card payments. Loaf and Jug has been offering 3 cents off per gallon for a long time, if you use the King Soopers or one of the other approved discount cards. But those savings also apply to credit card purchases.

These stations are offering a flat 10 cents per gallon discount for cash payments:

Cash discounts for gasoline purchases

So far I have not seen anything like this, in The Smile Hi City, Pueblo, or Colorado Springs. Am I just missing it, or are local gas stations missing it?

Credit card use is very convenient, especially if you keep the balance zeroed every month. But I'd go with cash vs credit card to save 10 cents per gallon.

7/20/08

Reserve officer training

Saturday, we finished up the firearms portion of the latest reserve police officer training academy.

Reserve police officers are unpaid volunteers, who must first complete a Colorado POST (state peace officer standards and training) certified training academy. This includes academic training in legal matters, arrest and control procedures, and firearms. It may also include driving, though we do not often see driving included in a reserve academy. Those departments who want their reserves to drive police cars must send their officers to a POST-certified police driving session.

In firearms, candidates must pass a written test, which includes firearms safety, complete 5 days of range training, including low-light shooting and decisional shooting, and then pass a POST mandated qualification course. The POST course is a standardized course used throughout the state. Candidates must also continually demonstrate safe gun handling. Failure to do so results in dismissal from the course, which has happened in the past.

Instructors for the firearms course included Chief Todd Quick, Sergeant Dave Gaskill, Corporal Vince "Vinnie" Fraker, Deputy Mark Jackson of the Otero County Sheriff's Office, and yours truly. For more on how to become a reserve officer, contact Chief Quick or "Vinnie" at 384-2525.

Here, we have some of the reserve candidates going through some of the last day's tactical and decisional shooting. This involves a lot of running, climbing, crawling, and multiple targets which include innocent bystanders, police officers, and bad guys. It should go without saying that it is considered bad form to be shooting bystander and police officer targets. All the running and other physical exercise gets the heart and breath rates way up, and often includes a bit of adrenalin dumping. This is a more realistic training scenario than simply standing in front of a paper target and plinking away. We don't have the high tech training facilities used by larger departments or the military, but we do have a very nice range and we adapt, improvise, and overcome to do better than simple target plinking.





7/18/08

Hypocrisy?

So, the Army is insisting that there are 'willing sellers' sniffing around Fort Carson, indicating that they want to sell land down by Pinon Canyon.

The opposition coalitions deny this vehemently, and insist that there are 'no willing sellers'.

Let's presume for the moment that the Army is correct, and that there are willing sellers. Certainly, it looks like Craig Walker is waffling on his former position. But he is one owner, and he doesn't live down there.

Why would other such property owners not be up front about such a desire to sell?

How do you think the coalition members would react? If you lived down there and you had decided to sell, wouldn't you want to keep on the down low?

C'mon. Let's face the truth about the opposition coalitions. They make a lot of noise about 'property rights' and 'the Constitution' and all the rest. They insist that the gummint ought not to be able to come in and take private property, in this case, land.

I agree with that. I have always agreed that the use of eminent domain to take private property is, if not legally wrong, then morally wrong. The law and morality are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

But if we are going to state that eminent domain is wrong, that it is an affront to the most basic concepts of ownership of private property, then the position of the opposition coalition that there should be 'no expansion' is equally as wrong.

Why? Because the coalitions, especially Not 1 More Acre, would deny property owners their right to sell their property to someone else, in this case, the Army. Not 1 More Acre wants to dictate to property owners to whom they can - or cannot -sell their land.

That is blatantly hypocritical.

It isn't enough to block the use of eminent domain. On Thursday, Assistant Secretary of the Army Keith Eastin said, on the record and on the recording, in an interview for the T-D "...“The Army sometime ago was less than forthcoming in what they were going to do with the existing Pinon Canyon and how they were going to acquire it. That was not done on any of our watches. I don’t know what was said. We promise not to take land. This is all on the record. We’re willing to commit what we say.”

Now the coalitions want to block the sale of land by private owners. Look at this:

"A diverse alliance of people — grassroots organizations, Congress, county governments — have said no to taxpayer dollars for purchase of the land, why do they keep using language that implies we are keeping the door open," Jim Herrell, a board member of Not 1 More Acre!, an opposition group of the expanion, said. "The headlines read that Sen. Salazar supports extending the moratorium, but what they should read is that Sen. Salazar has said no to the expansion."
Herrell added that the Army said what prompted the possible expansion was a group of "willing sellers" in the Pinon Canyon area. But, Herrell said, in order for their to be a transaction, there must be willing buyers. "The willing buyer is not the Army," Herrell said. "It has to be the taxpayers and they have said no."

And then today, Herrell is quoted thusly:

"We want the expansion stopped, willing sellers or no willing sellers," he said. "That's why we expect Congress to stop the funding."

While a good many people oppose the use of eminent domain, the number of people who rabidly oppose an expansion under any circumstances is considerably smaller. A small number of taxpayers may have said 'no', but have the majority? Do the majority even care, one way or the other?

Herrell and his compadres need to get a grip on their rhetoric, and quit being such hypocrites.

Comparative gen'rulling

USAF Top Brass puts counter-terroism funding to good use or, our tax bux at work in The Defense of the Nation.

"Terrorism Funds May Let Brass Fly in Style - Luxury Pods for Air Force Debated"

"The Air Force's top leadership sought for three years to spend counterterrorism funds on "comfort capsules" to be installed on military planes that ferry senior officers and civilian leaders around the world, with at least four top generals involved in design details such as the color of the capsules' carpet and leather chairs, according to internal e-mails and budget documents. . . . Air Force officials say the program dates from a 2006 decision by Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb that existing seats on transport planes, including some that match those on commercial airliners, may be fine for airmen and troops but inadequate for the top brass."

What is it about USAF's "top brass" ass that can't handle the web seats of a C-141?

And why is it that USAF gen'ruls seem preoccupied with tasks more suited to interior decorators? While Fort Carson's General Graham seems more concerned with troop welfare and training?

Time for some campaignin'













Unwitting tools

We were sitting at the outside table, as usual for this time of year, taking in the cool morning air, sipping cappies, and listening to 007 buzz around.

"So howzit feel to be an unwitting lackey a the Army?" DinkyDau Billy snerked, as he opened his second package of Granma's chocolate fudge cookies.

"Oh, I expect PCEOC would prefer the term 'witless lackey'," Leece replied.

Billy chuckled, and offered Leece a piece of cookie. She took it, and dunked it in her cappie. Leece is not by nature a dunker, but she does like those chocolate fudgies soaked in French vanilla convenience store cappie.

"I suppose I could have done some editorializing and spinwork in that interview article," said Leece,"painting horns, cloven hooves, and a tail on Eastin, and making Graham look like a bloodthirsty war-monger."

"Nah," I pointed out, "Roper and the Chieftain are pretty good at that."

"Nobody could ever accuse the Chieftain a bein' unbiased," agreed Billy, "meanwhile, them ranchers is as usual goin' nuts. They's accusin' the Army a goin' ahead with plans to expand PCMS despite the current spending ban."

"Well, Eastin said they have money in the budget for that hundred thousand acres, more or less," Leece noted, "and they do. The Brothers Salazar should know this. They are in the Congress, one in the Senate and one in the House. They are part of the crew that approved the Army's budget for this year, and they are part of the crew that gave the Army the authority - that pesky Defense Authorization Act - to spend the money."

"But not on Pinon Canyon," Billy argued.

"But not on Pinon Canyon," Leece agreed, "but Eastin did say, very clearly - it's on the recording and the Chieftain even reported it as so, which you can see if you can get past the obfuscatory slanting - that they can't buy any land down there unless Congress approves it. So I'm kind of lost over the hoo-hah."

"Unwitting tools usually are lost," Billy tweaked, looking askance at Leece to gauge her reaction.

"No, it's those ranchers again, not listening to what was said. Here's another thing. The ban is for this fiscal year, not this calendar year. The Federal fiscal year ends September 30 at midnight. It isn't the Army's fault that the Congress, with all its partisan backstabbing, delayed the Defense Authorization for this fiscal year until it was half over. That left the Army running on those 'continuing resolutions' which were based on last year's Defense Authorization Act. Now, with Allard and Salazar at each other's throats over extending that funding ban, the Army is looking at delaying only two months and maybe a week or so now."

"Unless they do the same thing with this year's Defense Authorization Act, in which case them continuing resolutions will still have the funding ban in place," Billy said.

"Exactly."

"Eastin also promised they would not take any land," Billy added.

"Yes. He did. It's on the record, as he said, and it's on the recording," Leece held up her LiveScribe secret decoder and recorder pen.

"Does he know that?" Billy asked.

"Yep. He understood exactly what the Livescribe was. Which is more than you can say for most of our local politicians."

"Good article, no matter you get hung in effigy, Leece," chuckled Billy, "at least you ain't panderin' for votes like McKinley or readers like the Chieftain. Maybe the Chieftain editorial staff can git one a them special 'Wes McKinley Geiger counters'."

"Not to mention some understanding of how to collect evidence and submit it to a real forensics lab. Interesting, isn't it, that none of the big front range papers that reported on McKinley's findings even raised the question. Odd, considering McKinley is making a lot of noise over what is arguably a Federal environmental crime, if that 'contamination' is man-made."

"That would not serve their purpose of spinning the news. They are as bad as CNN and FoxNews these days," Billy said, sneering slightly into his cappie cup.

7/17/08

Leece meets with Assistant Secretary of the Army Keith Eastin

We went to Pueblo today where Leece met with Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and the Environment Keith Eastin and Major General Mark Graham, commanding general of Division West, First Army, and Fort Carson. The meeting took place at the Cracker Barrel off the Eagleridge exit. Over coffee, Secretary Eastin talked with Leece about the Pinon Canyon 'issue'and responded to questions about the proposed expansion. He provided Leece with a copy of the report demanded by Senator Salazar. That report is now up on the web and may be downloaded here:

http://www.carson.army.mil/mpd/Pin%20can%20Docs.html

by clicking on the Final FY07 NDAA Report on PCMSlink.

Leece has an article up here:

Army willing to work with southeastern Colorado

Major General Graham is not your typical general. In my experience, generals tend to be a bit aloof around the hoi polloi, isolated by rank and position, and more than a bit snobbish and at least seemingly out of touch with 'the little people'. General Graham is none of that.

Major General Mark Graham: The commander’s shared scars

and here is the PR blurb about Secretary Eastin:

Assistant Secretary of the Army Keith Eastin

7/15/08

Kites

It's that time of the year again. The Mississippi Kites are out in droves, looking for fresh meat for their nestlings. There was a flock of about 15, whirling and wheeling over in New Addition, behind Bunny's, about noon today. We watched them from Sonic as we snuffled our Coney footlong and Santa Fe salad. They are also thick over City Park, and in the area to the east of the park, down to 5th and Colorado.




Who you are is what you get

"Hey! Hey!" DinkyDau Billy was quite cheerful as he slid to a stop in front of The Holy Land Quickee's. We were sitting in the cool morning air, at the outside table. Leece was sipping a cappie and I was slurping a diet Dr. Pepper.

"Good morning, Billy," Leece greeted our stalwart, "how are you doing?"

"Fine! Fine!", he exclaimed, "gimmee a minnit. I need a diet DP too."

A few minutes later he came out and plunked his sweaty butt down on the bench next to us. He was a bit...gamey. Leece discreetly slid over a bit.

"So," Billy said, "it looks like everbuddy's a victim in this Kosher thing except the kid what got beat. Akshully, it's all his fault. If it wuzn't fer him, the Koshers wouldn't be smeared and that Trumble kid wouldn't be facin' krimnul charges. Maybe we should be lynching that kid. You know, that vigilante justice them Koshers seem so fond of."

"Yep," I agreed, "that's about it. Trumble is a pillar of the community who is being set upon unfairly because of some little scumbag from Rocky Ford, and the Great Name of the Koshers (blessed be their Name) wouldn't be smeared through the mud if it weren't for that kid. It's a travesty."

"You need to work on your delivery a bit,both of you," Leece suggested, "the sarcasm was a bit thick there. I think it was the 'blessed be their Name' that gave it away."

"Ummmm...Ok." I was very agreeable.

"I wasn't bein' sarcastic," disagreed Billy, "I was bein' serious. They's been lynchin' that kid anyway, figgeritively speakin'. So do ya think if the victim...the kid what got beat...was the Mayor's nephew we'd be goin' through all these gyrations?" Billy was curious.

"You gotta be kidding," Leece snickered. It was her turn to be sarcastic.

"First, if the kid that got beat was a relative of anyone who really mattered, that is, one of the great or the near-great, he never would have been beaten. That's some 'justice' they reserve for the socially and politically inconsequential," I pointed out.

"Good point. Dakota, for example, is just some little half-breed huero whose family has no social standing among the great or the near-great; no political influence. They'd never, for example, be able to get a pit bull ordinance rammed through. So who gives a rat's red patootie that he got duct-taped and hung in the closet. You can just ignore it when one of the influential white meat goes off the deep end and starts whacking on people. Unless, of course, someone actually has the cojones to make a stink, in which case we get a concerted effort to destroy the victim. It all goes to saving the organization at any cost."

"You still have to work on the sarcasm leaking out," Leece pointed out, "your delivery needs a bit of work."

"Well, what the hey. At least we know the price of a blow job."

"Yup. Ten bux. Same as the membership fee," Billy guffawed.

"It isn't funny, Billy," Leece pointed out.

"No, it isn't. It's downright pathetic."

"Nice bit of damage control with that Sunshine Award, hmmm?" mused DinkyDau Billy.

"Cynic."

"Naw. Life experiences. I bin exposed to too many monolithic bureaucracies in my day."

"I wonder what God thinks about all this?" Leece asked.

"God don't factor into it," Billy replied.

"Now you are being a real cynic," Leece shot back.

"I don't think so. Do you see any sign at all of John 13:34 in any of this? It's all about saving the organization, about saving that image, and nothing at all about the people who were abused in this. C'mon. God ain't got nuthin' to do with kids being set upon," Billy argued.

We sat there in contemplation.

"Further..." Billy went on, "they's that old argument that 'God is everywhere'. Horsepoop. He ain't there if'n he's pushed away. He ain't up there at the Kiva right now. That's the main reason they's having this mess anyway. I think the whole bunch of 'em needs to stop and take a breath and take a look at what they's doin' and who they's doin' it to, and why. Jesus wept over stuff like this."

We weren't up to challenging Billy's theological perspective. In fact, it sounded like pretty good advice.

7/14/08

"I don't care what the law says..."

As a parent, grandparent, and step-parent, I was pleased to see the response to the public from the adult Koshare leadership in Friday's newspaper. Hazing, and worse, has been an on-going problem within the Koshares for as long as I have been in La Junta. It has had its peaks and troughs, but it has been there. I have spoken with a number of former Koshares and all reafirm and confirm this observation.

Mr. Trumble was the alleged perpetrator of a similar incident earlier last year, in which a younger member of the organization was allegedly (you have to love that word) beaten, bound with duct tape, and hung in a closet. My understanding, from speaking to the parent of that victim and the victim himself, is that the Koshares were not particularly responsive in that incident. This is in large part the reason for the demonstrations last Friday. I would maintain that had the Koshares acted appropriately in that matter, there is good possibility that Mr. Trumble would not be facing charges today, and the Koshares would not have their own membership dragging the good name of the Koshares through the mud. Yes, it is a 'good name'. Or it was before the Koshare membership allowed it to be smeared.

And that last statement leads me to Mr. Hayden's letter to the editor.

In his letter, Mr. Hayden accuses the newspaper of fabricating the story. He accuses the police department of bias. He accuses the newspaper of ruining the reputation of one of the 'most respected young people in town'. In one paragraph, Mr. Hayden implies that the newspaper, the police, and the courts are involved in a conspiracy against Mr. Trumble. And then, he states, "I don't care what the law says...".

Therein lies the problem. Fortunately, Mr. Hayden is not a Koshare. That's good, for he is one of the very last people I would want to have in a leadership position, a position of trust and responsibility within any organization, much less one that is charged with the development of character within our kids. By his statements, Mr. Hayden is hoist by his own petard. Do we really want someone who openly states, "I don't care what the law says..." in any kind of leadership position within the community? Do we really want leaders who feel it is perfectly OK to arbitrarily 'discipline' younger members by striking them with sticks? We don't let our teachers paddle kids any longer, and one would presume that adult teachers have better judgment than a teenager with a minimal to non-existent understanding of basic civics. Do we really want leaders who feel it is OK to coerce younger members into stating that they wish to perform homosexual acts on other juveniles? The police report, and the affidavit presented to the courts and approved by one of our judges supports those allegations, and Mr. Trumble himself is cited in the reports as stating that he 'knew it was wrong'. According to the report cited in the Tribune-Democrat and the affidavit cited by Mr. Mestas in his article in the Pueblo Chieftain, none of those present, interviewed by the police, offer any significant deviation from the fact pattern as presented. Are the police guilty of suppressing exculpatory evidence? Did they beat Mr. Trumble with a rubber hose to get those admissions from him? Is the judge part of it all? Do we require a Federal investigation of the police and courts here in Otero County and La Junta? Mr. Hayden would seem to think so.

The paper and the police and the courts have not 'ruined' Mr. Trumble's good name. No one from the paper hit the victim with a stick; none of the cops tried to coerce the victim into making statements that he desired to perform homosexual acts on the others present; and none of our judges, certainly not the ones from whom I have sought judicial approval on warrant affidavits, are saying, "I don't care what the law says...". Mr. Trumble and his friends have done all that themselves. Allegedly.

Do Mr. Hayden and his friends understand the concept of personal responsibility? Do they really believe that Koshare 'justice' should be based on who you are? To whom you are related? On who you know?

I offer this for Mr. Hayden and his friends to consider:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

That is the Scout Oath. I took it once, myself, and my adult leaders strongly believed in it, and on their Honor, gave it their best.

Most of us, whether we agree with each other or not, whether we like each other or not, really do try to live up to those principles, if not as defined by that oath then as defined by some other creed or moral concept. I challenge Mr. Hayden to tell me where anything he wrote is in any way in keeping with that oath, or more to the point, in keeping with behaving as a responsible citizen of this community and this nation.

PS: No offense to the gay members of our community. I just don't think that coerced sexual expression of any persuasion is appropriate.

"It's what we do..."

During our stay at Holden House this past weekend, a soldier and his wife were guests. As they were checking out and leaving, one of the staff members said to him, "Thank you for your service; thank you for protecting the country."

And he said...

"It's just what we do..."

Yes. And often at great cost. But they do it, and willingly, nonetheless.

7/13/08

The weekend: Holden House

We stayed at Holden House, a Victorian B&B in Old Colorado City. The service and accomodations were nothing less than excellent. This B&B is widely recognized for its high standards and service. We were in the Silverton suite in the old carriage house, behind the main house and fronting onto the garden. Breakfasts are served on very elegant services, with options for either an 8:00 AM or 9:00 serving. Our favorite was the Italian Eggs Florentine, though the Crunchy French Toast nearly got that vote. The staff is friendly, very personable, and extremely helpful. These guys could teach just about any business a thing or two about customer service. The main house and carriage house are both beautifully furnished with era antiques and memorabilia from the families of the owners, Sallie and Welling Clark. This is one of those 'we gotta do this again' places.

Holden House
Holden House Virtual Tours


Main house



Carriage house



Common area, carriage house



Common area, carriage house



Garden, with carriage house in the background